2009 Coverage

See also 2010 press coverage.

The following are highlights of 2009 media coverage of the Griffin Poetry Prize and its principals.

Note: Some of the links included here require publication subscriptions or registrations.

June 5, 2009
Matterstuff: Poetry for materialists
Griffin Magick
by Matthew Tierney

Starring Scott Griffin as Merlin.

Poetry whirlwind this past week, shortlist readings followed by “the highlight of the literary calendar,” the dinner. So say those who manage to score tickets, anyway. Yours humbly among them.

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June 5, 2009
Griffins flew, poets were good craic, too
by Joe Fiorito

You have heard by now who won the Griffin poetry prizes; if you did not, I can tell you everybody won, but A.F. Moritz and C.D. Wright enjoyed it more. The evening of the prizes was a very pretty party, but I prefer the evening of the readings, and the patter of the poets.

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June 4, 2009
Moritz, Wright winners of Griffin poetry prizes

A.F. Moritz of Toronto and C.D. Wright of Providence, R.I., are the winners of the 2009 Griffin poetry prizes totalling $100,000.

Wright had tears in her eyes while giving a brief acceptance speech.

“It was an emotional moment,” Wright said later. “I’m a very good loser, I’m a very awkward winner. I’ve been well-rewarded by the poetry community, but this is very moving to me.”

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June 4, 2009
The Wright stuff
by Damian Rogers

There must be something in the initials. The American poet C.D. Wright and the Canadian poet A.F. Moritz are both $50,000 richer today, following the award ceremony of this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize, held at a lovely Mexican-themed gala dinner-and-dance party last night in the Distillery District … Throughout the two days of the festivities, talk often focused on poetry’s place in contemporary culture, many suggesting that there is a renaissance afoot, buoyed by the staggering amount of good writing currently being done (which is, no doubt, buoyed in turn by the possible increase in an interested audience).

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June 4, 2009
Veteran poet wins Griffin Prize
by Vit Wagner

In what was presented as a competition between three generations of Canadian poets, it was the veteran A.F. Moritz who emerged as the Canadian winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize, the world’s most lucrative for verse, mduring last night’s gala bash in the Distillery District. Moritz, the author of more than 15 collections of verse, took home the $50,000 award for his current collection, The Sentinel … An equal $50,000 award went to the international winner, U.S. poet C.D. Wright, whose Rising, Falling, Hovering triumphed over collections by countryman Dean Young, Irish poet Derek Mahon and Scottish writer Mick Imlah, who died earlier this year of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Click here to view a Canadian Press video showcasing the Griffin awards evening.

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June 4, 2009
Griffin Prize Winners Make an Initial Impression
by Jessica Ford

It turns out that if you want to be a successful poet and $50,000 richer, you better consider going by your initials. The ninth annual Griffin Poetry Prize winners were announced last night at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District, with A.F. Moritz winning the Canadian award for his book of poetry The Sentinel and American poet C.D. Wright winning the International prize for her book, Rising, Falling, Hovering.

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June 4, 2009
A. F. Moritz named Canadian winner of 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize
by Mark Medley

A. F. Moritz was named the Canadian winner of the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize at a gala ceremony last night in Toronto. Moritz, 62, was awarded the $50,000 prize for his collection The Sentinel. On the international side, second time was the charm for American poet C. D. Wright, who was the international winner for her collecting Rising, Falling, Hovering. She was last nominated in 2003 for her collection Steal Away, but lost to Paul Muldoon.

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June 4, 2009
Barrington resident wins big Canadian poetry prize
by Bryan Rourke

C.D. Wright, an English professor at Brown and a Barrington resident, has won this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize. It is Canada’s biggest poetry competition, and one of the biggest in the world. Two winners, one in the Canadian division and one in the international division, each received $45,000 (US).

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June 4, 2009
Moritz, Wright win Griffins
by Suzanne Gardner

Prolific poet A. F. Moritz was awarded the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize at a gala on Wednesday night in Toronto. The author of more than 15 books of poetry won the $50,000 award for his 2008 collection The Sentinel.

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June 4, 2009
Toronto, Rhode Island poets win $50,000 Griffin Prize
by John Barber

A Rhode Island academic described as “America’s most original daring and scary poet” won the 2009 Griffin Prize for international poetry at a ceremony in Toronto Wednesday night. Rising, Falling, Hovering by C.D. Wright is a “work of harrowing power and genius,” said jury chairman Michael Redhill.

Toronto poet A.F. Moritz won the prize awarded annually to a Canadian poet for his work The Sentinel.

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June 3, 2009
A.F. Moritz of Toronto and C.D. Wright are the winners of the 2009 Griffin

A.F. Moritz, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College, won the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize on Wednesday for “The Sentinel,” which was also shortlisted for Governor General’s Literary Award last year.

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June 3, 2009
Preaching to the converted: a report from The Griffin Poetry Prize readings
by Mark Medley

“Poetry readings do not usually command an audience of this size,” remarked Scott Griffin, chairman of the Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry on Tuesday night. But this evening was different. We were, he said, about to hear some of the best poetry in the world from some of the world’s best poets. A sold-out audience of 800 people — including a who’s who of the CanLit scene — had gathered at MacMillan Theatre on the University of Toronto campus to hear the finalists for the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize, which will be handed out Wednesday night at a gala ceremony in Toronto.

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June 3, 2009
Griffin Poetry Prize Readings – poetry as theatre
by Sam Mooney

It’s been years since I went to a poetry reading. Tonight I went to the Griffin Poetry Prize Readings. Elaine, who came with me, had never been to one.

I can’t even remember where I read about the Griffin Prize or about the readings by the poets shortlisted for the awards but I remember thinking that it really wouldn’t be that different than a playwright reading a play. A performance.

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June 2, 2009
The Griffin Prize Questionnaires
by Mark Medley

The Afterword has asked the finalists on the Canadian and International shortlists to answer a few questions about their craft:

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June 2, 2009
He practises poetry without prejudice
Griffin Prize Gala; Editor-writer Kevin Connolly lets the words guide his journey

by Mark Medley

This evening, Kevin Connolly will recite his poetry for more than 800 people at the University of Toronto. It is by far the largest audience to which the 47-year-old poet has read.

“Many poetry readings, half the people in there have been dragged there. Or they’re in the bar already and can’t get their bill quick enough to get out,” he says, nursing a cranberry juice in the back room of Sarah’s Cafe, a local bar a few minutes from the home in Toronto’s east end that he shares with writer Gil Adamson. “Eight hundred? You don’t get the chance to do that as a writer, let alone as a poet. That’s going to be fun. I’ve just got to make sure I don’t screw it up.”

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June 2, 2009
Brown prof’s book of poetry a finalist in an international run-off
by Bryan Rourke

On Tuesday, C.D. Wright travels to Toronto, again. Once more, she’ll compete with words.

“I didn’t win before,” says the Barrington resident and Brown professor of English. “But they have a really great party, a really great party. So I’m a good loser, though I would prefer to win.”

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June 1, 2009
Canada’s 10 best poets?
by Steven W. Beattie

… This has, of course, prompted a flurry of comments about the relative significance of the MIAs, and the utility (or lack thereof) of such a list in the first place …

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June 1, 2009
A.F. Moritz: master of metaphor
by James Adams

Born in the USA, Griffin Prize finalist A.F. Moritz lauds his adopted country of Canada for its humility and openness.

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June, 2009
Canadian Primal
Five poet-thinkers redefine our relationship to nature

by Mark Dickinson

There’s an ecological renaissance under way in Canada right now, but chances are you haven’t heard of it, because it is flowering in one of the most ignored and feared regions of the high arts: poetry. Its chief proponents – Robert Bringhurst, Dennis Lee, Tim Lilburn, Don McKay, and Jan Zwicky, all major Canadian poets – have together earned around a dozen nominations for Governor General’s Literary Awards, in addition to numerous other accolades, such as the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize. As rewarding as their work is, it has yet to be discovered by a wider audience.

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May 31, 2009
Late poet’s Griffin nomination delights loved ones

Late Scottish poet Mick Imlah, who died in January of Lou Gehrig’s disease at age 52, wasn’t much of a self-promoter, says his longtime friend, Mark Ford. “He didn’t do much to try and make himself known or famous,” Ford, a professor of English and American literature at University College London, said in a recent phone interview. “He just got on with it and the kick he got out of writing these things was what kept him doing them.”

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May 31, 2009
Griffin bards range from dark to whimsy
A starry cast of finalists ponders everything from the Iraq war to Björk to rude waitresses. There are no losers here

by Barbara Carey

The Griffin Poetry Prize is a big deal in literary circles, and not only in Canada. Now in its ninth year, the Griffin is among the world’s most lucrative awards for poetry, and equals the Giller Prize for fiction as the biggest single winning payout in CanLit. Two poets win the Griffin each year: $50,000 goes to a Canadian poet and the same amount to an international one.

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May 30, 2009
Poet’s debut full of surprises
Archaeologist Jeramy Dodds says prestigious nod for first collection is ‘a little overwhelming’

by Vit Wagner

It doesn’t get much bigger in poetry circles than the Griffin prize, the planet’s most lucrative honour for verse, as well as one of the most prestigious. So it’s understandable that Jeramy Dodds might feel a bit bowled over that his debut collection, Crabwise to the Hounds, is a finalist for this year’s award.

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May 29, 2009
Pursuing the Griffin
Who’s who among nominees for the Griffin Prize – and why Albert Moritz will win it

by Harold Heft

The stated goal of the prize, in the words of the Griffin Trust, is “to spark the public’s imagination and raise awareness of the crucial role poetry plays in our cultural life.” This is a noble aim, incongruous in a country where the poetry section of our local book stores is often smaller than the manga or diet books sections (with Canadian poetry a sliver of a sub-section). To the minority of Canadians who care about poetry, Scott Griffin is Don Quixote, fighting a vital battle to adjust priorities.

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May 27, 2009
The glories of the Griffin
The trust and its annual prize continue to extend poetry’s reach

by Damian Rogers

As has often been reported, Scott Griffin, Canadian captain of industry and noted philanthropist, created The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry after a dinner party, attended by Michael Ondaatje and David Young, during which the guests lamented the decline of poetry’s place in public consciousness. Determined to promote the art’s profile, the Griffin Trust launched the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001, offering a large purse (the prize is now $50,000) to both a Canadian poet and an international poet. Eight years later, there are promising signs that the mission is making its mark here in Toronto.

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May 14, 2009
‘Showing us things both marvellous and horrific’
Robin Blaser, 1925-2009: poet, scholar, teacher, transgressor

by Sandra Martin

Robin Blaser always made an impression.

Beautiful with a sculpted face, moody eyes and a delicately attuned ear, he wrote poetry that was both playful and intricately laden with cultural and literary references. George Bowering, an admirer since he first read him in Donald Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry: 1945-1960, calls Mr. Blaser one of “the scholar poets.”

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May 14, 2009
The incomparable Robin Blaser
PROUD LIVES / Remembering the elder statesman of Vancouver poetry

by Rob McLennan

Robin Blaser’s early life was marked by his association with two of America’s finest poets. At Berkeley, he met fellow young poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan (in part through the anarcho-passivist movement). They became a loose trio of gay men and wrote much of the poetry at the centre of the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and ’60s.

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May 8, 2009
Robin Blaser, 1925-2009: Death’s Duty
by Stan Persky

One of the first poems of Blaser’s to which I paid attention, published in editor Don Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry, 1945-60 (1960), was an untitled sonnet-like work that begins, “And when I pay death’s duty / a few men will come to mind.”

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May 8, 2009
Robin Blaser: Sic transit gloria mundi
by Judith Fitzgerald

Canada and the world mourns the loss of a seminal figure in English-language poetry and poetics today: One of our greatest has passed away. Born in Denver, CO (18 May 1925), the incomparable and much-loved poet Robin Blaser grew up in Idaho before landing in Berkeley, CA in 1944. It was there he met Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer and Robert Creeley among other key members of the movement that would come to be known as the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and early 1960s. When he settled in Canada in 1966, he put down roots in Vancouver’s artist-friendly neighbourhood of Kitsilano and joined the department of English at Simon Fraser University (where his friend, poet and professor George Bowering, also taught; both poets, in fact, hold positions of SFU Professors Emeriti).

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April 13, 2009
Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Announcement

Click here to view the Bravo! News coverage of the announcement of the 2009 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist.

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April 11, 2009
A Griffin gathering
by Paul Vermeersch

The 21st century so far has proved incredibly fruitful for Canadian writers of poetry. Many of our most-recognized senior poets continue to publish masterful new work, and the level of accomplishment and sophistication expected of our emerging poets is continually rising. All of this, of course, is wonderful news for Canadian readers, and this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize short list is proof that the happy trend continues.

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April 8, 2009
Griffin Poetry Prize reaction
by Derek Weiler

Some reaction to the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist, unveiled yesterday, is trickling in. The Canadian Press interviews two nominees, Jeramy Dodds and Kevin Connolly, while the National Post has a backgrounder on this year’s selections. Q&Q reviewer and conflict watchdog Zachariah Wells says this is “one of the best Canadian shortlists I’ve seen … Kudos to Michael Redhill, this year’s Canadian judge.”

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April 7, 2009
Stars Poetica
by Matt Kim

The finalists for the Griffin Poetry Prize were announced earlier today, and Torontoist was happily in attendance.

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April 7, 2009
3 Canadians, 4 international poets nominated for Griffin Prize

Poets from Ireland, Scotland and the U.S. have made the short list for the Griffin Poetry Prize, the prize that awards $50,000 each to a Canadian poet and an international poet every year. Among the nominees is Scotland’s Mick Imlah, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease this January, shortly after submitting his book, The Lost Leader.

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April 7, 2009
Shortlists announced for Griffin Poetry Prize
by Mark Medley

As the publishing industry struggles to stay afloat, Canadian businessman Scott Griffin is handing out a $100,000 lifeline to keep poetry alive and well. Yesterday morning, after reciting some translated verse by Ezra Pound to a room full of journalists and editors, he revealed the nominees for the 9th annual Griffin Poetry Prize.

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April 7, 2009
Scott Griffin on Ontario Today

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdies is.” Well THAT verse won’t win any prizes. But three lucky Canadians have made the shortlist for The Griffin Poetry prize. And the Torontonian who created the extremely lucrative award will join us. Click here for an audio clip of the interview.

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April 7, 2009
Anansi dominates Griffin Poetry Prize
by Vit Wagner

Toronto indie publisher House of Anansi came close to cornering the market on this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize, garnering two of the three spots on the Canadian shortlist announced this morning.

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April 1, 2009
Five ways to celebrate National Poetry Month
by Ron Nurwisah

4) Buy a poet’s work
We know there are a lot of poets out there and it’s hard to figure out what poetry to buy, thankfully the Griffin Poetry Prize announces their shortlist on April 7. After that why don’t you head on down to your favourite bookstore and pick something up off the shortlist.

See also press coverage archives.

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